Python is one of the most versatile, powerful programming languages in the world. With Python, you can program your own apps, create games, design algorithms, or even program a robot. Learning Python can also lead to a career as a software engineer, web developer, mobile developer, or data scientist. It can also drastically improve your current career. But before you can build a website or apply for a job at Google, you need to master Python. So what’s the best way to learn Python?
Here’s the good news: people who want to learn Python have more resources than ever before. But that can also make it difficult to sift through the books, courses, and other Python resources. And not everyone learns the same—a course that works for one person might not fit another. Before jumping into the best resources to learn Python, let’s talk about the key questions you need to ask to find the best way to learn Python for you.
Don’t invest in an online course or a book to learn Python until you can answer these three questions:
- Why do you want to learn Python?
- What’s your learning style?
- What’s your coding level?
Start with your goal. Why do you want to learn Python? Are you looking for the best way to learn Python because you want to change careers? Or because you have an idea for a great app that you want to design yourself? Do you want to add coding to your resume to get a job in an industry that hires people with programming skills? Identifying your motivation gives you focus. It can also help narrow down the best resources to achieve your goals. For example, if you’re mainly interested in web development, you might not learn as much from a course about using Python for data analysis.
After you’ve identified your goals, ask: What’s your learning style? Did you thrive in the structured format of school? Or do you love reading books to teach yourself skills on your own? Do you learn best when you interact with other students or by yourself? Also, consider whether you prefer a teaching method that walks you through everything step-by-step or one that offers a more challenging approach. Knowing your learning style can help you find the types of programs that will help you learn Python.
Now ask yourself: What’s your coding level? Do you already know another programming language, or are you completely new to coding? The best way to learn Python varies depending on your skill level. If you’re completely new, you might want to start with an introductory course or beginner’s book. If you already know Java or C++ and you want to add Python to your list, you can start with a more advanced option. You might also prefer tutorials or structured projects to an online course format.
Remember: there’s nothing wrong with starting from scratch! Be honest about your coding skills so you can find the best method to learn Python for your skill level.
Now that you’ve identified your goals, your learning style, and your coding level, you can find the best way to learn Python, customized for you.
So let’s talk about some options for learning Python, including books, online courses, tutorials, and structured projects.
The Self-Taught Programmer: This book is based on Cory Althoff’s experience learning to program and landing a job as a software engineer at eBay. The Self-Taught Programmer doesn’t just teach Python—it also provides a roadmap for becoming a software engineer: covering subjects like passing a technical interview and how to get a job in programming.
Python Crash Course: A project-based approach to Python, Python Crash Course introduces programming concepts, trains readers in testing code, and helps learners create their first projects. The projects focus on games and data analysis.
Learn Python the Hard Way: A challenging tutorial-based book, Learn Python the Hard Way throws readers into programming with 52 exercises. By completing the exercises, readers learn professional programming tricks and skills. The approach works best for people with some programming knowledge or those who like a challenge.
Automate the Boring Stuff with Python: Automate The Boring Stuff with Python teaches you how to automate your daily tasks, like moving data from one spreadsheet to another. The book is aimed at new programmers and is especially useful for anyone that wants to learn to program to automate their lives, but isn’t necessarily looking to pursue software development as a career path.
Python Cookbook: More a recipe book than a beginner’s guide to Python, Python Cookbook offers practical recipes for experienced programmers. The book includes code samples for designing algorithms, web programming, and more. If you need to learn Python and you already have experience programming, this is a great place to start.
GoSelfTaught: Go Self-Taught is a community-based platform that teaches you how to program in Python. Enrolling in the program gives you access to a supportive Facebook community with over 1,000 members that are all learning to code together. The program also includes over 100 hours of exercises and homework, plus weekly live group training. Participants also receive a free copy of The Self-Taught Programmer. This blended approach works well for many different learning styles and was created specifically to help beginners learn to program professionally.
Code Academy: Learn Python: Over 10,000 people have taken Code Academy’s Learn Python 3 course. With interactive exercises, beginner training, and an emphasis on takeaway skills, Codeacademy’s course is a great place for new coders to start.
Pluralsight: Pluralsight offers a wide range of Python courses: from beginner to expert. If you are already know how to program, Pluralsight is a great option for learning Python. Pluralsight is usually one of the top resources recommended for advanced programmers.
Python for Entrepreneurs: This course helps entrepreneurs turn their visions into reality by learning Python. Python for Entrepreneurs requires basic programming knowledge and emphasizes coding for business.
Tutorials and Structured Projects
Real Python: Real Python offers multiple tutorials on the Python programming language, with many geared toward web development. Tutorials cover Django and other popular Python web frameworks, providing key skills for Python web developers. The site also offers content for beginners, intermediate Python developers, and experienced coders in other programming languages.
Python Jumpstart: A course that teaches Python through completing ten structured projects, Python Jumpstart appeals to people with some experience programming who want to add Python to their resume. With its focus on building projects, Python Jumpstart may work best for hands-on learners.
Dataquest: If your goal is becoming a data scientist, Dataquest may be the perfect tool to get there. The program offers guides and tutorials to learn Python, work with data, and create projects.
Official Python Documentation: For advanced programmers looking to learn Python, your best option may be to read Python’s official documentation. Python is known for having a supportive and active community. They’ve done a fantastic job with Python’s easy to read, well-organized documentation.
These tools can help anyone, from a novice to an expert in coding, learn Python.
Keep in mind that the best way to learn Python depends on your learning style. Some people sit down with a book and teach themselves how to program. That’s how Elon Musk learned to program. Others prefer the structure of an online course with regular meetings. Sometimes a blended format, with tutorials, live sessions, and a book, like that offered by goselftaught.com, works best.
Once you know your goal, your learning style, and your current coding level, you’re on the way to learning Python.